Residents of Erath County made a giant step toward finding a cure for cancer on May 18 when they walked throughout the night during the American Cancer Society Relay For Life.

More than 42 teams and 800 people came together during this year’s Relay to raise more than $88,000. The money raised will help fund the American Cancer Society’s research, education, advocacy and service programs.

“We appreciate all the support we received from each of the teams, as well as from our sponsors,” said Melanie Zinck, event chair. “We are especially grateful to the many volunteers and their families for all of their hard work to make this event happen.”

The Relay began at 7 p.m. at Stephenville City Park, when 169 cancer survivors kicked off the event by walking the first lap. A luminaria ceremony at 9 p.m. illuminated the entire track as participants lit luminaria candles in memory of those who’ve lost the battle to cancer and in support for those still fighting the disease.

Meanwhile, Erath County had a special role during its Relay event as one of only 64 sites in the country chosen to host a Cancer Prevention Study-3 (CPS-3) enrollment. Over 122 people joined the study by the end of the event.

To qualify, participants had to be between the ages of 30 and 65, must never have been diagnosed with cancer, and must be willing to make a long-term commitment to the study. They were asked to complete a brief written survey, provide a waist measurement, and give a small blood sample at the enrollment site. Follow-up surveys will be sent to participants’ homes on a regular basis over the next few decades to update health behavior information.

Researchers will use data from CPS-3 to build on evidence from a series of American Cancer Society studies that began in the 1950s and involved hundreds of thousands of volunteer participants. Initial enrollment takes 20 to 30 minutes, and the study is expected to produce benefits for decades to come.

“The Quest Diagnostics team did an excellent job. I didn’t even feel the prick,” Diana Gibson, a 12-year society volunteer, said. Gibson was one of those who signed up and believes she will stay involved in the study.

“It’s necessary to do your part in the fight against cancer, and participating in the study shows another level of commitment,” she said.

Gibson’s father passed away from cancer, so she knows the impact of cancer first hand.

There is still an opportunity to make a donation to help Erath County reach their goal of $105,000. To do so, log on to www.acsevents.org/stephenvilletx. For more information, visit www.cancer.org/cps3 or call toll-free 1-888-604-5888.